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Posts in "Tea Party"
August 14, 2014
Passing a new Voting Rights Act in the GOP-dominated House was never going to be easy, supporters acknowledge. But with a powerful Republican such as Eric Cantor as an ally, hope flickered for nearly a year.
Then came June 10 and the shocking primary defeat that tanked Cantor’s congressional career — taking with it, in all likelihood, any prospect for an update of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation that had been weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.
Even with Cantor as majority leader, said a House aide close to the VRA negotiations, “I would have speculated that it was certainly a very steep climb. That it was unlikely, but there was still hope.”
But with the Virginia Republican out of the mix, the aide said, “it doesn’t appear we’re going to see it this Congress.”
It’s a disappointing turn that has some Democrats wondering if Cantor ever deserved the benefit of a doubt on minority voting rights. Full story
August 4, 2014
Marlin Stutzman knows how to plant seeds.
When the Indiana Republican mounted his campaign for majority whip, it was such a long shot he didn’t expect to win — at least not this time.
No one else really expected Stutzman to prevail in the three-way leadership contest, either. But he’s looking years down the road, and is glad he took the gamble.
“Some people are afraid to lose. … Sometimes you have to lose in order to build something for the future,” Stutzman told CQ Roll Call during an hourlong interview in his 7th floor Longworth office.
It’s a lesson he knows well, as a member who entered the House in November 2010 after losing the Indiana Republican Senate primary to Dan Coats in May of that year.
Stutzman, who calls himself “an overachieving farmer,” didn’t see much downside to running and losing. This race was more about getting his name out there to let his colleagues know he’s interested in leadership.
His goal was to build relationships within the GOP conference. Stutzman said a lesson he learned from his scramble into leadership elections was that the conference is not as divided as many think, that the differences are more over strategy than policy.
So what does Stutzman want? The fourth-generation soybean, green bean and seed corn farmer doesn’t exactly seem to know.
July 30, 2014
Updated 11:07 p.m. | In a bid to shore up votes for their border supplemental, Republican leaders plan to give conservatives a vote Thursday prohibiting President Barack Obama from granting deportation relief to more illegal immigrants.
One vote will be on the $659 million appropriations bill aimed at curbing the flow of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes policy riders that have alienated nearly all Democrats.
On the condition of that bill passing, members would then be allowed to a vote on standalone language prohibiting the expansion of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program granting deportation relief and work permits to children brought here illegally by their parents. Republicans charge that DACA has acted as a magnet for unaccompanied children to come to the United States, although recent immigrants are not eligible.
Obama has promised to do all he can on his own on immigration by the end of the summer — and recent news reports that he may expand DACA’s deportation relief to as many as 5 million additional illegal immigrants have roiled the GOP.
Language targeting DACA would be similar to legislation pushed in the Senate by Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who, as negotiations were ongoing, was hosting conservative House members in his Capitol Hill office to discuss strategy on the matter. Cruz’s bill has a companion in the House, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The legislation would prohibit the administration from granting deportation and other relief to any more illegal immigrants. It does not target people who have already enrolled in DACA.
The Rules Committee finalized the plan late Wednesday on a party line vote.
Ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., offered an amendment to strike the language that would bar Obama from continuing or expanding DACA. It was defeated along party lines, 3-8.
Rules Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts took issue with the timing of the proposal’s introduction, which coincided with Cruz’s dinner.
“Mr. Cruz has considerably more sway than some of the leaders in the House,” he quipped.
Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, took issue with the criticism, saying there has been “a continuing dialogue within our conference about what would and would not be in [the bill], and yesterday we became aware of what was in, and that created a set of circumstances where there were certain discussions.”
The plan would force conservatives — many of whom have a history of voting for amendments and then voting against the underlying bill — to back the supplemental first if they want a chance to constrain what some conservatives, like Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, have blasted as “administrative amnesty.”
The plan also came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., roiled conservatives by suggesting the House’s bill could be used to conference a comprehensive immigration bill. That prompted Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to blast Reid and vow no “immigration reform” of any kind would be added to the bill.
It’s not clear what will happen if the House border makes it to the Senate. Although the rule doesn’t combine the border bill with the DACA language — as leadership at one point considered — the White House earlier Wednesday threatened a veto of the border bill on its own.
Matt Fuller contributed to this report.
July 28, 2014
There’s no shortage of House conservatives who think President Barack Obama has broken the law — or is simply not enforcing it. But none of these brash right-wingers slamming the president for executive overreach are stepping up to offer articles of impeachment. Why?
“Because it is unwise,” said Rep. Mo Brooks. The Alabama Republican was like many others CQ Roll Call attempted to pin down, and wouldn’t comment on whether he thinks the president deserves to be impeached. “It does not make any difference what I think,” Brooks said, identifying the major procedural hurdle facing any such effort — there is “no chance” the Senate would impeach the president.
Calling it a “moot point,” Brooks pulled out the Serenity Prayer from his wallet and read: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Similar sentiments came from even the most ardent anti-Obama flamethrowers, with Steve Stockman of Texas calling it a “futile endeavor.”
“Not going anywhere with the Senate,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. “It sucks all the air out of the room.”
Even Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a few months ahead of her retirement, didn’t want to talk about impeachment, literally making a shooing motion with her hands when CQ Roll Call raised the question.
July 15, 2014
A curious line of reasoning emerged Tuesday as to why conservatives in Congress aren’t chomping at the bit to impeach a president that they believe has broken the law: There isn’t enough time.
At a monthly panel discussion with conservative lawmakers, members were asked if they would support impeaching President Barack Obama for selective enforcement of some laws and dramatic reinterpretations of others.
While a number of the lawmakers seemed to think impeachment was warranted, no one was offering to write up the proceedings.
“The president deserves to be impeached,” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. “Plain and simple.”
But, as Weber pointed out, it isn’t so simple.
“We’ve got so much on our plate that it’s not practical,” he said, noting that such an endeavor wouldn’t pass the Senate even though “he definitely deserves it.” Full story
July 10, 2014
Texas Republican Steve Stockman filed a resolution Thursday directing the House sergeant-at-arms to arrest former IRS official Lois Lerner on charges of contempt of Congress.
“Asking the Justice Department to prosecute Lois Lerner for admittedly illegal activity is a joke,” Stockman said in a statement. “The Obama administration will not prosecute the Obama administration. How much longer will the House allow itself to be mocked? It is up to this House to uphold the rule of law and hold accountable those who illegally targeted American citizens for simply having different ideas than the President.”
Under the resolution Lerner would be held in the D.C. jail and would have full legal rights and access to an attorney. CQ Roll Call has reported on the House’s rarely-used power, confirmed by the Supreme Court, to arrest and hold those found in contempt of Congress.
The full text of Stockman’s proposal, H.Res. 664 is below. Full story
After a year and a half of stops and starts, unbridled optimism and hints of inevitable defeat, Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart has declared his efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration system officially dead for the 113th Congress.
“Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year,” the congressman told reporters at a hastily convened press conference in the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday afternoon. “It is disappointing and highly unfortunate.”
Later, Diaz-Balart repeated, “I don’t think I can hide my disappointment.” Full story
June 24, 2014
Sen. Ted Cruz held another closed-door meeting with House conservatives Tuesday night, sitting down with insurgents over pizza in his office for a free-flowing discussion about immigration, leadership elections, the IRS and recent changes at the Republican Study Committee.
Over the course of about an hour and a half, 14 of the most conservative members of the House piled into Cruz’s Dirksen office for what was described in an email as an off-the-record gathering of “discussion and fellowship.”
The attendees were, in the order in which they arrived: Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Trent Franks of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, John Fleming of Louisiana, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Steve Stockman of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Ted Yoho of Florida, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. (Lamborn was facing a primary back home.)
This isn’t the first time Cruz has met quietly with House conservatives. He met in the basement of Tortilla Coast with 15 to 20 House Republicans during the government shutdown in October. He also met with a similar group of House Republicans in his office in April.
The topics of conversation at these meetings have been the subject of vivid speculation.
But Tuesday night, Cruz looked to downplay the whole affair as he entered the meeting at 7:09 p.m.
“You guys have made a mountain out of a molehill,” the Texas Republican told CQ Roll Call. He noted that he had met with conservatives “periodically,” and he implied such gatherings aren’t a big deal. Full story
June 20, 2014
Updated: 6:35 p.m. | While many lawmakers have said they don’t think Speaker John A. Boehner will stay for another term, the surprise defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the recent leadership elections now has at least one conservative lawmaker thinking Boehner’s position has been strengthened.
Raúl R. Labrador has repeatedly predicted that Boehner would step down as speaker at the end of this term. In fact, the Idaho Republican did it as recently as last Tuesday, on the morning of the day that Cantor lost his primary to Dave Brat.
But after waging his own unsuccessful bid for majority leader, and after Kevin McCarthy was elected to the position, Labrador thinks Boehner is now better positioned to stick around. Full story
One day after winning the House Majority Leader election, Rep. Kevin McCarthy told a Washington gathering of religious conservatives that he’s “proud to be a Christian.”
In a brief afternoon appearance at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference, an upbeat McCarthy, R-Calif., told attendees he thanks “my Lord and Savior for his grace, his strength and for never leaving me.”
McCarthy, who is a Baptist, was elected to GOP majority leader Thursday in his fourth term in the House, the fastest ever ascent to the pivotal leadership post.
He steps up from the No. 3 post in the House, majority whip, to replace the outgoing No. 2, Rep. Eric Cantor, who lost his Virginia Republican primary on June 10 to Dave Brat, a college economics professor who was backed by tea party groups.
McCarthy’s election has been met with skepticism by some social conservatives who consider the Bakersfield native an “establishment” Republican.
He told attendees he will bring the party together: “We will unite.”
June 19, 2014
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t appear to think that there was foul play in the Internal Revenue Service’s misplacement of key emails from Lois Lerner, the ex-agency official at the center of the ongoing IRS scandal.
At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, the California Democrat said her takeaway from reports that Lerner’s emails have been lost forever was simply that the IRS needs to upgrade its technology infrastructure.
June 17, 2014
Candidates for House majority whip are pushing their cases hard in the last hours of the race, each promising to heal a party scarred by infighting and at the same time, wrangle the conference into a united voting bloc.
In the run-up to Thursday’s pivotal vote, Rep. Peter Roskam, the chief deputy whip, is touting himself as the most experienced candidate — and the only one who will be a disciplinarian toward rambunctious members who vote out of step with leadership.
The Illinois Republican said he would punish members who vote against leaders’ priorities, according to a member familiar with his pitch. Although that is much more difficult in a post-earmark world, Roskam laid out a slate of ideas, including refusing to take up unruly members’ bills, withholding plum committee assignments and even banishing rebels from the weekly conference breakfast, denying them a free meal if they do not play with the rest of the team. Full story
June 16, 2014
Rep. Raúl R. Labrador is running a high-profile campaign to be the next House majority leader, appearing on nationally-syndicated talk shows, obliging interview requests from Capitol Hill scribes and penning a personal appeal to his colleagues.
In advance of the Thursday election that will decide who gets to replace outgoing majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Idaho Republican sent a brief letter to members of the GOP conference late Monday to ask for their support.
Labrador, who is running largely as the conservative alternative to his opponent, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, said that his seat at the leadership table would mark both a departure from the “status quo” and a return to a time where senior lawmakers sought to unify the rank and file. Full story
The two front-runners in the race to become the next House majority whip spent the weekend shoring up support with potential allies — and, through staff, taking swipes at each other.
A source close to Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, in an emailed memo to CQ Roll Call, said the 90-plus members in the House who have pledged to vote for the Illinois Republican are “rock solid,” while Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise’s numbers are “soft” and “all over the place since Thursday — at 100, 120, over 100, etc. etc.
“No one wants a whip who can’t count,” the source continued, “and no one wants a whip who overpromises and under-delivers.” Full story
June 11, 2014
House Republicans quickly sloughed off the shock of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat and were immediately thrust into a weeklong, all-out sprint for power.
Next Thursday’s vote for new leadership will have ripple effects that touch every aspect of House policymaking, messaging and scheduling.
Republicans are hoping for a quick transition, counting on the chaos of this week’s unexpected primary results to give way to unity and a new leadership team. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio called on his conference to come together, even as internal elections are sure to tear them apart for the next week.
“This is the time for unity; the time for focus — focus on the thing we all know to be true: The failure of Barack Obama’s policies and our obligation to show the American people we offer them not just a viable alternative, but a better future,” he told his conference in a private meeting Wednesday night. Full story